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  1. #1
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    WI - Grandpa faces $600K lawsuit after grandson downloads movies

    A Racine man who says he doesn't even like watching movies, let alone copying them off the Internet, is being sued by the film industry for copyright infringement after his 13-year-old grandson downloaded four movies on their home computer.

    The Motion Picture Association of America, on behalf of three major Hollywood studios, filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against Fred Lawrence, a 67-year-old retiree. The suit seeks as much as $600,000 in damages for downloading four movies over iMesh, an Internet file-sharing service.

    The lawsuit comes after Lawrence, a former employee of Snap-on Inc. and seasonal worker for the City of Racine, refused a March offer to settle the matter by paying $4,000.

    "First of all, like I say, I guess I'd have to plead being na´ve about the whole thing," said Lawrence. He said his grandson, then 12, downloaded "The Incredibles," "I, Robot," "The Grudge," and "The Forgotten" in December, not knowing it was illegal.

    Lawrence said his grandson downloaded the movies out of curiosity. The family already owned three of the four titles on DVD, and his grandson deleted the computer files immediately, he said.

    "I personally didn't do it, and I wouldn't do it. But I don't think it was anything but an innocent mistake my grandson made," Lawrence said.

    He hasn't settled because he doesn't have the money, and a lawyer said the settlement was likely a scare tactic that wouldn't result in a lawsuit. Now he doesn't know what he's going to do.

    "I can see where they wouldn't want this to happen, but when you get up around $4,000 . . . I don't have that kind of money," Lawrence said. "I never was and never will be a wealthy person."

    The movie industry readily concedes it won't gain public sympathy suing someone like Lawrence, but a spokesperson said that's not the point.

    "We're not asking for anyone's sympathy. We are asking for people to understand the consequences of Internet piracy," said Kori Bernards, vice president of corporate communications for MPAA.

    Bernards said the problem is the movies Lawrence's grandson downloaded were then available to thousands of other users on the iMesh network.

    "Basically what you are doing when you use peer-to-peer software is you are offering someone else's product that they own to thousands of other people for free, and it's not fair," Bernards said. "People need to understand that when they are swapping movies online they are not anonymous, and that they will face consequences like this lawsuit."

    Bernards said that illegal downloading costs the movie industry an estimated $5.4 billion a year.


    http://www.jsonline.com/news/racine/nov05/367482.asp

  2. #2
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    If it's illegal, then they need to go after IMesh. Leave Grampa alone.

  3. #3
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    This lawsuit is ridiculous and the grandfather should counter-sue for mental stress. They know full well it was a kid who did this, he erased three of them, he didn't know you weren't supposed to do that. The grandfather even said they already had three of them on DVD. They'd be better off punishing the kid by making him sweep the floor somewhere than punishing the grandfather.

    These scare tactics should be saved for the real pirates, the ones who sell hundreds of these copies.

    What a bunch of jerks, IMO

    JMHO
    fran

  4. #4
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    I dunno - I have some sympathy for the movie business because I'm in a field with the same problem - software. There seem to be a bunch of people who figure it's OK to take my hard work and pay nothing at all for it. People who can't seem to distinguish between the cost of reproducing a CD and some manuals (what they think we should charge for the software), and the cost of employing everyone required to create and test and maintain the software.

    The kid made a mistake, the grandfather is in trouble for it - I think largely because the MPAA is really trying to create a level of fear and awareness to where a parent won't just ignore whatever their kids are doing online. It's a lot like a kid shoplifting - the parent is in trouble if they don't stop the kid from doing it. This is a new type of shoplifting that parents need to learn about. I really see the Grandfather's point - he didn't know - but that didn't stop the harm from being done. He should have talked to them and settled - they often settle for nothing more than a nice public statement about how wrong this was, if you talk to them. But it seems he tried ignoring it, and that didn't work out so well. My suspicion is that the MPAA doesn't want to go to trial, they want to settle, because I don't think a judge or jury will find this guy guilty.

    From what I read - the problem isn't that the kid downloaded them, but that he made them available for others to download - so he became one of those mass distributor pirates. That's the nature of the iMesh style software usually - they avoid responsibility by having all their members be the distributors. It takes awhile for a court to rule it illegal, and if they are based in another country, it can be impossible to get the service shut down.

  5. #5
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    Well, if they want to make an example of someone, why don't they do it with someone with criminal intent. This kid didn't realize he was doing anything wrong and now they're going to make the last few years of this grandfather's life meshed with lawsuits and possibly losing what little bit of money he has left to survive. It's disgusting and I have no sympathy for them.

    There's plenty of big time players getting away with this every day, making million$. This poor guy is trying to exist. He didn't have $4,000, what makes them think he even has the funds to fight a $600,000 lawsuit. They're just a bunch of bullies pushing their weight around. They're overpaid anyway.

    Pathetic!

    JMHO
    fran

  6. #6
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    There aren't big time players anymore. No one is online selling illegal downloads and making millions from it. There are issues in other countries, and those are being fought in those countries legal systems. What there is now is a bunch of people who all claim they didn't know it was wrong, downloading and posting copies of movies up to the Internet where millions of others download it for free.

    I'm sympathetic to the grandfather, but in a lot of ways I see it as being like a shoplifter - the stores also aren't too sympathetic to a claim of naivity. The problem is that right now, a kid can easily post a movie and effectively steal hundreds of copies of it. The level of harm is pretty huge. And advertisements and publicity that's been going on for quite some time don't do enough, it keeps happening. I can see the MPAA frustration - a product that cost billions to make is being freely stolen online, distributed for free. And the distributors are ordinary people who all claim they didn't think they were doing anything wrong. They've spent tons of money trying to warn people that this is illegal, so now they are using the lawsuits to show the degree of harm caused by this activity.

    It's a bad situation all around. The grandson made a mistake, and it was an expensive one. Since he's too young, the grandfather is the one considered responsible. There is a real problem here for the movie industry - they'll go out of business or have to go to producing cheap independent style movies if they can't be paid for the work that goes into a movie. But there are no big names to sue, no distributors making millions - the problem is from people on iMesh type networks who make their products available for download, almost without realizing it. It's a tough thing to stop, and the lawsuits are the only things that are working at all, causing parents to ask their children if they are on Kazaa or iMesh and if so getting them out of it. The ads don't work, but the lawsuits do.

    I'm sympathetic to the grandfather, and grandson, and family. I do believe he didn't know much about it - but it still happened. According to the article, the grandfather is pretty safe - pleading ignorance is fine, and will get him out of it. The MPAA is just continuing trying for this reaction, trying to make a big press splash, so they can educate the parents who won't listen to the advertisements and other news, but will take this threat to their pocketbook seriously.

  7. #7
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    I wonder if picking on grampa is a ploy ... obviously they know that story will run a lot farther by picking on the little guy versus taking on those who are truly at fault here.

  8. #8
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    Maybe they shouldn't hire big name actors who want 20 million dollars a picture. That might save them some money. I agree that it is wrong but this old guy doesn't have this money and if it were shoplifting it wouldn't be a 600,000 dollar law suit. Give this kid some community service and make him realize it is wrong. By making the grandpa pay it really isn't making the kid at the age of 12 realize it was wrong.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by golfmom
    I wonder if picking on grampa is a ploy ... obviously they know that story will run a lot farther by picking on the little guy versus taking on those who are truly at fault here.
    I think the whole lawsuit thing is planned - they are going after the ordinary everyday people - because that is where the problem lies. It's the only way to get the point across that it's not just the prototypical shady hacker in mom's garage that is doing something wrong.

    iMesh is using a very clever method - they claim to be just a place for people to share legitimate files, and all they are is software to enable it. So each illegally downloaded movie is generally made available (unless you flip a switch in a hard to find Options page - at least if it is like Kazaa) to the world from your PC, which then makes you a distributor. So iMesh says they are innocent, they don't have a single illegal movie copy on their servers, the catalog is produced from what all the individual users have on their PC's. They're the bad guys, but they've got a great legal case that makes them hard to take down. That's who you should be mad at - iMesh. They're the ones that make it so you can think you are just downloading a movie, when in fact they've just turned your PC into a distributor.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by mindi77
    Maybe they shouldn't hire big name actors who want 20 million dollars a picture. That might save them some money. I agree that it is wrong but this old guy doesn't have this money and if it were shoplifting it wouldn't be a 600,000 dollar law suit. Give this kid some community service and make him realize it is wrong. By making the grandpa pay it really isn't making the kid at the age of 12 realize it was wrong.
    It's not just the actors - the movies cost more than a billion to make - that's not the actors, it's all the thousands of lower paid supporting personel as well, people who make the props, people who bring the food, people who do the special effects, the person who answers the phone. You can't just make a movie on the cheap, without having it look cheap.

    Besides - if people want it, why not pay the money necessary to get the big name actor - does that make it OK to steal if you don't agree with the price of the item?

    The lawsuit isn't about getting the money, it's about getting the publicity. So the next grandfather will be a little more interested in what his grandson is doing on the computer. They know they won't win this case, but the publicity is what they want.

    I'd be more ticked if I could find a solution that didn't involve suing people like the grandfather. I don't see one - do you?


  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Details
    It's not just the actors - the movies cost more than a billion to make - that's not the actors, it's all the thousands of lower paid supporting personel as well, people who make the props, people who bring the food, people who do the special effects, the person who answers the phone. You can't just make a movie on the cheap, without having it look cheap.

    Besides - if people want it, why not pay the money necessary to get the big name actor - does that make it OK to steal if you don't agree with the price of the item?

    The lawsuit isn't about getting the money, it's about getting the publicity. So the next grandfather will be a little more interested in what his grandson is doing on the computer. They know they won't win this case, but the publicity is what they want.

    I'd be more ticked if I could find a solution that didn't involve suing people like the grandfather. I don't see one - do you?



    How many grandpas even understand the computer anyway, I am sure that it is not many.
    Yes I think people should pay for the movies but the wouldn't cost as much if you didn't have the 20 million dollar actors in it. They don't need 20 million to act. There should be a cut off on how much they make. And all of the little people should get paid which I am sure isn't much. Maybe if they didn't let actors get by with demanding 20 million a movie then movie theaters wouldn't have to charge so much and people would go and pay.

    I agree it is wrong but by suing the grandpa that isn't stopping it. Get the sites shut down. But suing the grandpa is silly even if it is just them trying to make people realize it is wrong because not all older people have a clue about this and if it is there grandkids doing it at the age of 12 and nothing is done to them they won't get it is that wrong. I think at 12 I thoought money grew on trees....not really but I didn't have the right concept of it.

    Something needs to be done for sure but not this.

  12. #12
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    They can't shut the sites down - they're based in other countries, and hiding behind technicalities.

    If you want them to stop paying the actors so much - go ahead and start a movement to not go to any movie you think cost too much to make. But it's supply and demand - right now those expensive actors make a movie enough more popular, people go see the movie because of the actor, because the actor is known to be a quality actor, or whatever - it's supply and demand. However - don't think that this is going to change the price of movies by all that much. Special effects, computers, locations, props, writers, script writers, directors, gofers, food - movies cost often more than a billion to make - taking an actor's salary down (and I don't quite get how that is justified) won't change the cost of the movie by much at all.

    Grandpa had a computer hooked up to the internet - and he's not that old of a grandfather anyway. It'd be nice if there was another way - the MPAA would love that - they hate spending money on lawyers to do this, and alienating people - give them another option and they'll take it.

    This is the growing pains of the Internet - first it was free, then abuse started, and people started realizing how it could be used, both for good things, and for bad things. The whole new area of intellectual property also is another growing pain. Previously, most things that people made had a physical manifestation, and the little intellectual property there was (such as an innovative new design for an automobile clutch gear) required enough heavy work and equipment to steal that it was all on company level - you could sue another company if they stole your design. Now there's more intellectual property, and it's easier than ever to steal it, and people accustomed to only seeing theft in physical property are having to adjust their ethics to recognize that work is work, regardless of whether it produces a physical item or a pattern of bits to be stolen.



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